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Khabib Nurmagomedov's 5 best UFC fights

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 17:47 IST

UFC 205: Nurmagomedov v Johnson
Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his UFC Lightweight title against Conor McGregor at UFC 229

We’re now just a matter of weeks away from one of the biggest fights in UFC history, as UFC 229 will finally see the long-awaited fight between UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former titleholder – and the biggest star in the sport – Conor McGregor.

Practically everyone knows how McGregor got to this point and all about his biggest fights – vs. Mendes, vs. Aldo, vs. Diaz, vs. Alvarez – but Khabib’s journey has been a slightly longer one, albeit just as successful. The Dagestani fighter is 26-0 in MMA with 10 UFC victories to date, and he’s beaten some absolute killers along the way.

Here are Khabib’s 5 most impressive performances inside the Octagon.

#1 vs Thiago Tavares, UFC on FX 7 – 01/19/13

Nurmagomedov finished Thiago Tavares in just under two minutes
Nurmagomedov finished Thiago Tavares in just under two minutes

Coming into his fight with Thiago Tavares in January 2013, Khabib was determined to send a message to the UFC, the fans, and his fellow Lightweights. He’d actually struggled somewhat in his previous fight – a decision win over Gleison Tibau – with some fans feeling Tibau should’ve been given the nod. And for this showdown, he was stepping right into the hornet’s nest – Sao Paulo, Brazil, where a partisan crowd would be cheering Tavares on.

At the weigh-in, Nurmagomedov showed off his witty side, as he wore a t-shirt with the slogan “If Sambo was easy, it’d be called jiu-jitsu”. It might’ve annoyed the Brazilian fans, but by the time the fight came around, Khabib was done joking.

The fight was just two minutes old when, after a short period of feeling out, Khabib nailed Tavares with a big step-in left uppercut. The Brazilian went crashing down and after a series of elbows – referee Dan Miragliotta letting the fight go on for too long, to be truthful – ‘The Eagle’ was declared the winner by TKO.

The fans in attendance were stunned into silence – partly in horror at a Brazilian favourite being stopped so violently, partly in awe of Khabib – and it was suddenly crystal clear that there could be no doubts – Nurmagomedov was for real.

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Published 15 Sep 2018, 00:18 IST
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